4-H youth programing isn’t new to Lake County. _Students and farm kids over the course of the 1950s and 60s participated in 4-H clubs and activities but the programming faded away in the following decades.
Luckily through the efforts of Tennessee legislators funding came through for many Tennessee counties to hire 4-H agents across the state in many underserved communities. Beginning in the spring of 2021 through the work of Ashley Harris, the Lake County Family and Consumer Science Agent, and continuing into 2022 with the newly hired 4-H agent, Maggie Goodman, 4-H found its place once again in the communities of Ridgely and Tiptonville.
Through the incredible support of the Lake County School District, students began 4-H clubs at Lara Kendall Middle School, a Teen Council at Lake County High, and Cloverbud Clubs at Margaret Newton Elementary in the 2021-2022 school year. Lake County students have represented their hometowns in poster competitions and judging teams, piggy bank design challenges, and much more they have learned about the importance of saving money, how to grow plants from seeds, what an ecosystem like Reelfoot Lake is capable of, and many other lessons over the course of the school year.
Lake County Extension also had the opportunity to take fifteen students to 4-H camp and have delegates at the 100th Annual State 4-H Congress—the premier leadership event for Tennessee 4-H for the first time ever. Both of these came to pass through the generosity of local leaders and businesses donating over $5000 towards transportation and registration fees to support these students in exploring different parts of the state.
As UT Extension continues to build the Lake County 4-H program, its important to celebrate 4-H’s history, as well. This week, Lake County will observe 4-H Week for the first time ever.
National 4-H Week is an opportunity to honor the programs past alumni, Jimmy Stewart, Jimmy Carter, David Letterman, Bob Dole, Julia Roberts, Charley Pride, among many others) and the important roles 4-Hers have played in our nations history.
In fact, National 4-H Week began as a result of World War II. The attack on Pearl Harbor resulted in many changes in the United States. The focus on national defense took top priority.
W. H. Palmer, State 4-H Leader in Ohio, took this need as a call to arms and organized a State 4-H Mobilization Week for Ohio as a means of focusing the attention of 4-H members on what they might do for national defense efforts. State leaders throughout the country loved the idea. As a result, the Federal Extension Service initiated National 4-H Mobilization Week which was observed annually in 1942, 1943, and 1944.
The focus during National 4-H Mobilization Week was quite intense and full of purpose.
4-H’ers were enlisted to assist in the 4-H Club war program. 4-Hers – especially those living on farms – were recruited and encouraged to produce food for rural men and women in the armed services. Additionally, these 4-H members reported to the public how their war-time efforts assisted in family food production, conservation goals, and contributions to the armed forces. The following year and each year since students across the nation have celebrated the 4-H mission and its international programming.
4-Hers continue to heed the call to serve decades later and Lake County students play an important role in that, whether its planting gardens at the Tiptonville Senior Center or collecting books for the Tennessee State Congress philanthropy project, 4-Hers representing Lara Kendall Middle School and Lake County High School continue to work towards honoring the important 4-H Mission of ledging our hands to larger service for my club, my community, my country, and my world. The Lake County Extension service is honored to continue the traditions of past 4-Hers with building a program that gives present and future participants the opportunity to develop leadership skills that will empower the community for decades to come. On behalf of hundreds of 4-Hers in Lake County, Lake County Extension would like to thank the following sponsors and volunteers for an incredible year and the endeavors they helped support:
The Tennessee 4-H Foundation, Matt Fennell-chair
The Fasola Foundation
Tiptonville Dairy Queen
Nutrien Ag Wynnburg- John Riley
Ed Sumara Farms
Mt. Manuel United Methodist Church
Mud Lake Planting Company
and the Keiser Family
Lake County Lions Club
Lake County Farm Bureau
Lake County Primary Care
Gerald and Crystal Prince
Leah, Gentri, and Laina Beal
The Lake County Health Department and health educator, Haley Renner
Lake County Schools Henley House
The Lake County Board of Education, Dr. Woody Burton, Sherry Weatherly, Mandy Norris, Hank Curvin, Gamble Snyder, David Ayers, Danielle Frye, Debbie Dial, Suzanne Keefe, Mike Moore, Shelly Arnett, Michelle Johnson, and Sunny Riley